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Re: Renewal of STAR File trademark registration

  • To: "Discussion list of the IUCr Committee for the Maintenance of the CIFStandard (COMCIFS)" <comcifs@iucr.org>
  • Subject: Re: Renewal of STAR File trademark registration
  • From: Peter Murray-Rust via comcifs <comcifs@iucr.org>
  • Date: Wed, 8 Jul 2020 18:04:40 +0100
  • Cc: Peter Murray-Rust <pm286@cam.ac.uk>
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I have bought (UK) Trademarks in the past (for VHG and CML) and am not enthusiastic about them. 

I Am Not A Lawyer but have been involved in Copyright (especially "reform" in Europe) and also Patent litigation and my experience is:

* everything is domain/jurisdiction-dependent. Protecting IP (Copyright/Trademark/Patents, which are all different) in all jurisdictions is complex, expensive and time-consuming. Ultimately problems are resolved in courts which is costly and time consuming. This is almost all civil law ( but not France https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_France ) A good lawyer may be able to frighten the other party and avoid litigation.

* copyright. This protects the work but not the use of the work. Thus IUCr can limit the reproduction of the CIF standard but copyright cannot dictate how it is used. Copyright is inherent in the creation of the work whereas trademarks and patents have to be applied for. 
* patents. (I am personally strongly against software patents. Others may differ).
* trademarks. These can be an effective control on usage, but it is up to the owner to police potential infringements. This is likely to cost time and money. You have to select the "class" - for example IUCr "CIF" would be in a different class from "Cif" cleaner.
* European database rights. These cover collections of data, such as Crystallographic databases. Probably not relevant here.

There are few absolutes (France excepted). It is difficult to predict the outcome of borderline cases. A German district court held that teaching was a commercial activity, but this was later overturned. It is usually a balance of risk.

The biological community has done very well without formally protecting the knowledge they create. There were few copyright notices, although Creative Commons has made this more straightforward. "Community norms" seem to work well; if you have a large enough, responsible, user base then this is an effective defence. I suppose in the modern world we may be attacked by copyright/patent trolls who claim they own the IP. Some companies take out defensive patents but I doubt that we should do the same. The trolls only want money.

CIF and STAR are very well known, respected , and I would expect the risks are low.

P.

 


--
"I always retain copyright in my papers, and nothing in any contract I sign with any publisher will override that fact. You should do the same".

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader Emeritus in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dept. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
CB2 1EW, UK
+44-1223-763069
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